So, I had an interesting experience last week. Has anyone ever had a problem with Eric Carle being violent in his books?
I was reading the Grouchy Ladybug and one of the adults in the room commented that they didn’t like the book because it was violent. I finished the book, asked the kids if they learned anything and went about my business. As I thought about it I tried to figure out how someone could consider this violent…then it dawned on me…we’ve become a society of absolute pacifists, and rather than educate people on a subject we have decided to pretend it doesn’t exist or ignore it completely.
The premiss of the Grouchy Lady Bug is pretty straight forward: 2 ladybugs meet to eat bugs off a leaf. One is grouchy and asks to fight the other lady bug. The grouchy lady bug is grouchy and flies around continually asking to fight animals…and declining when recieving a yes to his challenge. In the end he gets smacked (accidentally I believe) by a whale tail he tries to challenge to a fight. He then ends up back at the leaf, and is no longer grouchy.
So anybody see any violence? Other than an accidental slap…..me neither. It seems that our society has become so blinded by their own fear of violence that any hint at conflict in any manner is considered violence. This is not the sign of a healthy society.
Just because something might imply violence (Hey wanna fight?) does not actually mean anything violent is happening or is going to happen. In fact every time he challenges someone he walks away from it….no violence occurs until the whale slaps him accidentally near the end of the book.
What we should be doing is engaging children in conflict resolution and teaching them how to deal with it properly. If we just ignore violence the child is never going to grow up knowing how to deal with it when it occurs. If this happens it could lead to the child resolving the violent situation with more violence, or learning how to intentionally be violent instead of knowing how to resolve it.
Personally I would like to see more advocacy for violence resolution in schools, libraries, etc. Maybe we could educate the teachers and their generation that they can’t just ignore something till it goes away, you have to deal with it at some point.